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This morning, early, while the sun was starting to climb the sky and the party revellers were climbing into bed, I caught up with the garbage collectors in my community.

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I’ve been trying to catch them for a while but they come, pull, tip, push and jump back on the truck so fast its been a mission to get to them before they’ve already gone.

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The whole manoeuvre so quick I thought they wouldn’t have time for a chat and that they would be reluctant to eat cupcakes surrounded by such filth.

What rubbish and how wrong could I be?

I waited and watched for the truck and heard it long before I saw it. They are not quiet things these. The pffffssht of the air brakes, the squeal of the oil through the pipes as the hydraulics moan at the weight of the skip, shheuus, bang, clatter, shatter!

As per always, I like to ask permission before I shoot so looked up high to catch the driver’s eye. Next thing, the truck was idling and he was next to me, asking if there was a problem and if he could help. How come they so politely think they’re in trouble?

What ensued was a lively conversation peppered with humour and a huge heap of goodwill. These guys are such a hoot and the amicability between them and towards me tangible.   (Except when you want a smiley picture)

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Ifran Khan (centre), the driver comes from India. Rida Rasab (left) from Egypt and Khalil Mica (right) from Bangladesh.   They are all happy in their jobs and said they enjoyed working for the Dubai Municipality who treated them well. Their years of service – 25 years between them testimony to that.

Working a 7-½ hour shift; starting at 4.30am and ending at noon, they have one wife each, 1, 2 and 4 children respectively and send monthly money home. The usual story. Well partly, because this time there was a difference. Their eyes shone bright and although the life they live is not easy…

The stare, THAT stare – the one that gives just a tiny glimpse into a saddened and suppressed soul,  crying on the inside while still smiling on the outside – yes, THAT stare was not there.

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